By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Finally Opening Day 2021 arrived on the calendar.
Uncertainty, doubts and nerves of course took the Brighton Softball Field on Monday night March 15. Joining them in action were joy, eagerness and relief between the visiting Millington Lady Trojans and host Brighton Lady Cardinals.
Losing their 2020 season because of the global pandemic, both teams took care of business off the field to remain healthy earning a debut night going the way of the Brighton Lady Cardinals 10-0.
“It’s been a long time, more than 365 days,” Brighton Head Coach Robin Jacobs said. “It really didn’t matter who we played tonight. It was just the opportunity to get out there to play. Tonight was a perfect night to play and we’re just happy to get out there again.
“We played good,” he added. “Our schedule is very donning and it starts all over again tomorrow night against Lewisburg. We’ll see how good we are. I thought we did some good stuff night. We didn’t give up any runs and we got 10. I don’t know if that will be enough the rest of the week.”
The Lady Trojans made the trip up to Tipton County after a preseason featuring a major change. Back in February the players and assistant coaches learned of the departure of Whitney Horton. The former Lady Trojan Skipper has moved back home to be near her parents and other family members.
Led by interim Head Coach Diego Reyes, Millington gave the Lady Cardinals solid competition for five innings behind the pitching of Katilyn McDonald. The senior hurler finished the game against a well-rounded Lady Cardinal lineup.
Brighton did touch up McDonald for 6 runs through three innings including a Carley Cook homer.
On the rubber for the Lady Cardinals was sophomore lefty Katlyn Jones. Missing her freshman season, Jones had the poise of a veteran in her varsity debut against Millington.
“We were real excited to see her get out there and get after it,” Jacobs said. “This is the first real game she has pitched. I think it was a one-hitter. She has a lot of potential and we’re going to keep getting better every game.”
To close out the game, the Brighton offense earned 4 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. The next big fly for the Lady Cardinals came courtesy of Brie Howard to dead center.
“Both of those girls Carley Cook and Brie Howard, not to be bragging, we’re expecting to see that often with this two right there,” Jacobs said. “Probably two of the best No. 3 and No. 4 batters we’ve ever had around here. They both have home run potential whenever they step up there.”
The Lady Trojans move on to take on more non-league opponents building cohesion with Reyes and staff to prepare for District 15-2A competition. As for the Lady Cardinals, teams like Lewisburg, Dyer County, Tupelo, Hernando and Desoto Central were scheduled next. Then the next round of game will feature area rivals like the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels, Covington Lady Chargers and Munford Lady Cougars.
“We’re not the hunted anymore,” Jacobs said. “We’re the hunters. And I think that’s good for us and I hope our kids get that so we can get to where we need to.
“I want to see us compete,” he concluded. “We’ve got to see how we’ll get off the deck when somebody slaps us down.”
The Lady Trojans bounced back in a big way in the home opener March 16 vs. Bartlett. After giving up a grand slam in the second inning, Millington trailed 6-2. The Lady Trojans took the lead for good in the fifth and then put the game away with a sixth inning with seven runs en route to a 14-6 win. The Lady Trojans broke out the hitting sticks with 14 including 3 doubles and 3 triples. Ann Howard had 3 hits including a double and a triple, scored 2 runs and had 2 RBIs. Ally Morona had 2 hits including a double and her triple in the fifth gave the Lady Trojans the lead they would not relinquish. Meagan Harding had 3 hits in her first varsity start. Daphne Fowler had 2 hits, 2 RBIs and scored 4 runs and pitched a complete game. Fowler retired 16 of the last 18 batters she faced including 12 in a row at one point.